QST/April 1916/Washington’s Birthday Amateur Relay Message

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Washington’s Birthday Amateur Relay Message
by William H. Kirwan
This article appeared in the April 1916 issue of QST

Colonel P. Nicholson sends message from Rock Island Arsenal.


EVERY one remembers the story of a famous little George, and his hatchet; had this little George been living in the 20th.Century and on the particular date of February 22nd, 1916, he would probably have told his Father he could not tell a lie and he had blown the fuses with his little key. Yes, we are quite sure little George would have reported thus, for every amateur tried his best on the memorable night. The. important amateurs of the United States lent their aid to this relay about which we have heard so much. A few months before, the same amateurs had relayed a less important message which was a success. The first message of December 31st, 1915 inspired 9XE and his assistants to order the work on February 22nd, 1916.

 The purpose of this test was to show the United States Government that the amateurs of the United States were in a position to co-operate in radio work. The United States authorities at the Rocks Island Arsenal seemed rather skeptical about the results of such a relay. but promised to co-operate with 9XE. Never before had the amateurs been flattered by such co-operation. The Navy Department went so far as to have QRT and QRM signals sent out from Arlington on the night of the test. Many of the readers heard NAA give his warning.

 Everything had been carefully arranged before the test. The desirable sending stations were listed according to wave lengths, power and other essential details. A large map of the United States was divided up into Districts and by means of circles showing the range of various high powered stations, it was readily determined that the Amateurs could cover every point in the United States except a few of the western desert Districts. Considerable diplomacy was necessary in handling the situation, as a certain amount of jealousy was found to exist between Special stations, First-class amateur stations, and the little fellow with the gas engine coil and a few dry batteries. Local jealousies came out, one certain amateur claimed that he was always jammed by another when a relay message came through. This was investigated and it was found that neither the interferer or the QRM’d man could receive a message well enough to read their own call letters. Their sending was beyond all expression and the only thing their neighbors could read, were their call letters.

 Some stations wanted a different night—others a different time, and still others wanted certain stations, friends of theirs, or second cousins, appointed in Squedunk. Every one had something to suggest. Some wanted a copy of the msg. before it was transmitted so they might check up what they received, another crew wanted each station to call another and receive o. k. for a msg. This idea would have worked out well had the message not been an emergency call, all stations trying to pick it up on a QST.

  After considering with great care the hundreds of suggestions, final instructions were printed as complete in detail as was possible. A certain time was assigned to each relay station together with the particular wave length which was to he used. Five minutes were given for sending the message and this allowed very little time for tuning. All this backed up the one main purpose, the conditions were exactly as planned; no one had any advantage over the fellow; it was an emergency message; and a case of receive it or not.

 On Friday, February 18th at eleven p. m. a test was tried and on this particular occasion QRN was worse in 9XE’s district than ever before during the winter. The results from the test were very poor and showed how extremely helpless the amateurs were in the face of such great difficulties.

Last Minute Changes.

 The Harvard Wireless Club notified 9XE that 1ZD’s station could not work, but Harvard University would take 1ZD’s place, and use his wave length. Harvard certainly did its share.

 University of Michigan, 8XN, at Ann Arbor, got in touch with the writer and asked for an assignment. Every one has heard of the striking efficiency of this station, and a special assignment was made for 8XN on the same time as 5BJ, and another assignment was granted at twelve o’clock to permit the stations over the eastern part of the United States to hear the message on the wavelength of Miami and Key West stations. Those who claimed they were jammed by stations sending press, only had to adjust their variable condensers a little and 8XN could have been heard.

 On the very night of the relay, Prof. Ford of 9YA called the writer and requested Permission to send the message. twice. This station of the State University of Iowa is well known throughout its District, so permission was granted for another sending time along with the regular assignment. The second sending occurred at 11:35 p.&nbspm. central time.

The Fatal Moment Arrives.

 Eleven p.&nbspm. The first time in the history of wireless telegraphy, the air was clear with only an occasional QRN. Every amateur in the country was quiet—truly a remarkable thing. It is still eleven p. m. and out the message came.

QST, QST, QST, de 9XE ―.―.―
QST relay MSG.

 A Democracy requires that a people who govern and educate themselves should be so armed and disciplined that they can protect themselves.

  (Signed) Colonel Nicholson, U. S. A.

 The readers need no further description as to just how each station received and relayed the message. Needless to say, the test was a complete success. Certain parts of the message became balled up in the transmission, and before it had gone far it had been signed by Colonel Nicholson, Colonel Nichalson, Colonel Michalson, Colonel Micholson, Colonel Nichols, Colonel Nick, Colonel Richards, Colonel Richardson, and several other Colonels amplified to the nth power. It was a common cause, rich men, poor men, young men, old men, two ladies, a host of boys, and several ministers. All the talk about preparedness shows that young America is on the job when aroused.

How the Message Travelled.

 The Pacific Coast heard the news fifty-five minutes after it had left 9XE. The Atlantic Coast was just five minutes later than the Pacific, New 0rleans boasts of receiving the message within twenty minutes of its first transmission, and the Canadian border reports having heard the message at 11:20 P. M. Central time. All along the coast of Texas, the message was received within thirty minutes after the original transmission. Every amateur may feel with pride that he is one of the efficient system which bounded the United States in one hour.

Incidents of the Relay.

 Kuna, Idaho. On his large ranch, H. E. Rawson received the message, and galloped across the prairies eighteen miles with his

H. E. Rawson in this one-lung ford from the April 1916 QST.png

one-lung Ford, and having made the distance in record time, delivered the message to the Governor, who was so surprised at this strange manouever that he was unable to express, himself for several days, Mr. Rawson certainly showed the old time American spirit.

 Peekskill, N. Y. J. W, Dain, 2CE, was sick in bed, but still had plenty of pep left in him. Against the Doctor’s orders, he tried to receive the message, and with chattering teeth and trembling knees. he finally copied it. How’s that for spirit?

 Victor, Colo., William G. Colburn of the Colburn Ajax Mines and one of the prominent members of the American Radio Relay League, received the message at his Special


William C. Colburn running from his station from the April 1916 QST.png


station which is located 10,300 ft. above the sea level. This was a nice high place for the message, where we hope it may stand upon the pinnacle of American fame.

 Washington, D. C. W. A. Parks, 3DS, copied the message, jumped on awaiting motorcycle, opened the machine up, and after nearly frightening several policemen,


W. A. Parks nearly frightening one of several policemen from the April 1916 QST.png


especially the one at the Executive Mansion, dashed up the steps of the White House with the msg. written on an A. R. R. L. blank for the President of the United States, whom we hope was peacefully sleeping as it was about 2:00 a. m. February 22nd. Mr. Parks is a “Minute-man.”

 Wheeling, W. Va. John C. Stroebel wrote his station down in the hook of fame as 8ZW, which was heard from one end of the country to the other. While Mr. Strobel was notifying hundreds of other amateurs by wireless, he was unable to resort to the wild and rugged roads of West Virginia, so he was compelled to fall back on the old time out-of-date system of telegraphy run by the Western Union to notify the Governor of his State.

 Lewiston, Mont. 7BD, was found to be the connecting link between the middle west and the Pacific Coast. A. C. Campbell, the operator, certainly did some quick work when he received the message from 9XN and relayed it to La Grande, Ore.

 La Grande, Ore. O. M. Heacock, formerly 7OH, now 7ZH, came in to good advantage when his wonderful aerial handed the message to 7JD. See the picture of this famous pole in the Illustrated Section.

 Hoquiam, Wash, This city came on the map when H. W. Blagen, received the message and handed it on to Lacey, in the same State.

 Lacey, Wash. The Morning Olympian of Olympia. Wash. tells us how the Rev. Sebastian Ruth in charge of the radio outfit in St. Martin’s College, received the message from 7JD and sent it out broadcast covering several hundred miles of western territory. Rev. Ruth, reports having encountered a great deal of interference from VAE, Point Estavan, Vancouver Island. VAE seemed to be calling imaginary Warships of the Allies. All sorts of fictitious gunboats are dreamed to have been prowling around our coast, so with even the Allies against, us we put the relay through in good shape. Walter A. Kleist, of Tacoma, Wash. delivered the message to Governor Lister of Washington.

 Boston, Mass. Mr. S. W. Dean of the Harvard Wireless Club received the message from 2XW. Mr. Dean was so delighted that he hauled Mr. Gawler, the Radio Inspector of the First District out of bed at 2:00 A. M. The Governor of


Mr. Gawler being hauled out of bed at 2 am from the April 1916 QST.png


Mass. was compelled to undergo the same surgical operation. Mr. Dean phoned him the message in the wee hours of the morning.

 Marengo, Ia. The Mayor of this city received the Washington’s Birthday message which was received by Peter A. Stover, who copied the message from 9XZ.

 Jefferson City, MO. The message reached this city at 11:45 P. M. And was received by Willis Corwin at his radio station 9ABD Mr. Corwin is exceedingly proud of the letters of congratulation which he received from the Governor of his State and the Mayor of Jefferson City.

 Muskogee, Okla. Colonel Nicholson’s message was picked up here by Ernest Sams at 11:41 o’clock. Mr. Sams call is 9XN.

 Waco, Texas. Hurrah, for Waco! This place is about one thousand miles from 9XE and on the night in question the static was doing its worst. Paul M. Deeley of this city got the better of the static and so was able to copy the message a few minutes after it was sent. At first he was only able to copy about every third word of the famous relay but the checking up was so beautifully done and with such little loss of time that the A. P. wire was beaten by half an hour.

 Shreveport, La. This place is about nine hundred miles from Davenport, Ohio, but Mr. W. Antony had no trouble in hearing the message all the way down the Mississippi river and first copied all but three words from the origin 9XE.

 Worcester, Mass. The Worcester Telegram of February 22nd reports that William H. Allison received the message from 1ZL and delivered it to the Mayor according to schedule.

 Nutley, N. J. The Nutley Sun states that Arthur A. Hebert of Highfield Lane, one of the important members and District Superintendent of The American Radio Relay League received the message thirteen minutes after its start from the Rock Island Arsenal.

List of Relay Points.

 The writer could continue for several pages giving newspaper clippings and news items from every part of the country, but the space in “QST” must be devoted to more important things. Credit is due in many places which we have not mentioned and the list given is by no means complete. Many of the relay stations neglected to notify headquarters, so their names will fail to appear.

 In conclusion, we wish to express our thanks to Captain Bullard of the Navy Radio Service. Through his co-operation, . we can explain much of the success. Mr. Josephus Daniels, Secretary of the Navy also lent valuable assistance and recognizes the value of amateur relaying. Finally, we wish to thank all the members of The American Radio Relay League for their timely assistance.


ALABAMA
 Birmingham H. S. Brownell
 Mobile B. W. Martin
ARKANSAS
 Little Rock J. M. Clayton
COLORADO
 Denver E. A. Smith
 Victor H. C. Colburn
CONNECTICUT
 Hartford H. P. Maxim
 Hartford C. D. Tuska
 Hartford L. D. Fisk .
DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA
 Washington Nat. Radio School
 Washington W. A. Parks
GEORGIA
 Athens W. B. Pope
IDAHO
 Kuna H. E. Rawson
IOWA
 Ames Iowa State College
 Cedar Falls E. F. Grossman
 Council Bluffs I. M. Kerney
 Des Moines G. J. Lorance
 Dubuque C. W. Bonson
 Dubuque J. D. Brennan
 Dubuque C. W. Patch
 Iowa City Prof. A. H. Ford
 Marengo P. A. Stover
ILLINOIS
 Cairo K. B. Warner
 Galena L. M. LeBron
 Fort Wayne L. C. Young
 Louisville C. Bridges
 Magnolia A. C. Spencer
 Moline E. Wittich
 Quincy J. J. Sehott, Jr.
 Rockford R. Graf
 South Bend L. Fruit
 Valparaiso Dodges Institute
 Wishawaka R. I. Hootens
KANSAS
 Wichita W. S. Ezell
KENTUCKY
 Bellevue Thos. Tallentire
LOUISIANA
 New Orleans W. J. King
 Shreveport D. R. Simmons
MARYLAND
 Baltimore R. Dimling
 Baltimore R. S. Hall
 Baltimore C. R. Lamdin
MASSACHUSETTS
 Cambridge S. W.Dean
 Great Barrington R. F. St. James
 Northampton G. Sabine
 Worcester W. H. Allison
 Worcester W. B. Burgess
MICHIGAN
 Battle Creek E. E. House
 Bay City Geo. McBride
MISSOURI
 Cape Girardeau H. Deal
 Columbia L. M. Stewart
 Jefferson City W. P. Corwin
 Kansas City R. R. Moore
 St. Louis A. S. Blatterman
 St. Louis W. H. Carroll
MINNESOTA
 Hutchinson E. R. Dennis
MONTANA
 Lewiston A. C. Campbell
NEBRASKA
 Kearney S. L. Keller
 Lincoln T. C. Rice
NEVADA
 Reno W. Pressell
NEW JERSEY
 Atlantic City Earl Godfrey
 Bridgeton W. A. Fithian, Jr.
 Camden W. A. Pyles
 Highland Park F. K. Shield
 Lake View L. Spangenberg
 Morristown J. P. Gaty
 Ocean City E. R. Burgeois
 Nutley A. A. Hebert
 Ridgewood T. C. Banto
 Rutherford B. B.Jackson
 Summit F. M. Waterman
 Westfield H. B. Day
NEW YORK
 Albany J. K. Hewitt
 Freeport S. L. Raynor
 New Rochelle G. C. Cannon
 New York City A. Boeder
 New York City P. T. Brown
 Niagara Falls O. E. Dunlap
 Nyack M. V. Bryant
 Peekskill J. W. Dain
 Port Chester J. W. Hubbard
 Port Washington J. Weiss
 Yonkers J. K. Noble
NEW HAMPSHIRE
 Keene Reg. F. Hour
NORTH CAROLINA
 Winston-Salem Sargeant Clodfelter
OKLAHOMA
 A Muskogee Earnest Sams
OHIO
 Galion L. M. Berry
 Hamilton Doron Brothers
 Lakewood G. E. Grostick
 Lima G. W. Hays
 St. Marys Mrs. C. Candler
 Sandusky G. L. Beare
OREGON
 La Grande O. M. Heacock
PENNSYLVANIA
 Bala Chas. A. Service, Jr.
 Philadelphia L. M. Knoll
 Philadelphia F. B. Chambers Co.
 Philadelphia J. A. Nassau
 Pittsburgh A. J. Gilmore
 St. Davids C. H. Stewart
SOUTH CAROLINA
 Charleston W. F. Allston
TEXAS
 Dallas F. M. Corlett
 San Antonio J. C. Rodrignez
 Waco T. Darwin
 Waco P. M. Deeley
UTAH
 Salt Lake City J. G. McCollom
VIRGINIA
 Richmond R. R. Chappell
WASHINGTON
 Lacey Rev. S. Ruth
 Hoquiam H. W. Blagen
 Tacoma W. A. Kleist
WEST VIRGINIA
 Wheeling J. G. Stoebel
WISCONSIN
 Superior F. W. Keeler

H. C. GAWLER, RADIO INSPECTOR OF THE FIRST DISTRICT

To H. P. Maxim

 I beg to inform you that the relay message sent out from Rock Island Arsenal was telephoned me at about 2:00 a. m. this morning by 1ZD. The text is as follows:

 “A Democracy requires that a people who govern and educate themselves should be so armed and disciplined that they can protect themselves. Col. Nicholson.”

 This message was received by 1ZD at 1:45 A. M. and immediately telephoned to Governor McCall. He was unable to communicate with Mayor Curley of Boston, but delivered the message through other radio stations as outlined in the program.

 Permit me to extend to you and the American Radio Relay League my heartiest congratulations for this notable achievement. You will recall when the formation of your league was under consideration, I emphasized the importance of having efficient and effective lanes of communication over extreme distances. It is indeed a most pleasant surprise that this ideal has been accomplished to such an extent in the short space of time the league has been in operation, and it seems to me the possibilities for even better results are most encouraging.

Respectfully,
(Sgd.) H. C. GAWLER,   
Radio Inspector.  
This work is in the public domain in the United States because it was published before January 1, 1923. It may be copyrighted outside the U.S. (see Help:Public domain).